Bartleby the Scrivener

"Bartleby had been a subordinate clerk in the Dead Letter Office at Washington"-here,what does 'the dead letter office' mean?

I mean what is Bartleby's job in 'the dead letter office' and how is it significantly related to his ultimate consequence as 'dead Bartleby' (in prison)?

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Last updated by jill d #170087
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He scribes copies of documents in a law office

Bartleby is said to have once worked in the Dead Letter office, and to have lost his job after an administrative shake-up. The narrator (the Lawyer) wonders if such a miserable job—burning letters that have been sent to people that have died in the meantime or who have vanished—were what caused Bartleby's ennui and his descent into seeming insanity.


The narrator wonders if Bartleby's time in the dead letter office had an affect on his mind. For all intents and purposes, Bartleby was already dead as a person before he took the job as a scribe. He has no life, nowhere to go, and no home. He's obviously mentally incapacitated in some way because he won't leave the office and stays there until they finally cart him off to prison........ what went on in the man's mind is a mystery, but I think that with his arrest he finally got people to concede and treat him like he actually existed. The old even bad attention is attention.